08 August 2010

Bakun dam waiting for green light to start holding water

BELAGA: The construction of Bakun Hydroelectricity Dam is in its final stage and is expected to start impounding or holding water in its catchment areas after getting the green light from the state government’s Public Utilities Ministry.

Managing director of Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd, the owner of the world’s second largest concrete-faced rock-filled dam, Zulkifle Osman, said 96 per cent of the civil construction has been completed and the remaining four per cent is the final touch up on the mega structure.

“We have submitted applications for impounding permit in stages to the ministry and all the reports have been endorsed by the state’s consultants. We believe the permit will be issued soon.”

Before the impounding starts it will be explained it to the people in the area.

After the water level has reached the required level, the top 10 metres of water will flow through the intake outlet.

Water from the outlet will flow to the power station which houses the eight turbines. The top ten metres is to ensure that water flowing out to the other side is clear and without timbers.

Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated is entrusted to develop and manage the hydroelectric project since May 2, 2000. It was awarded the contract in 2002.

The civil engineer with vast experience in dam building explained that the holding of water flowing down the Balui River is done by shutting down the three diversion tunnels.

“The water will be held in the designated areas. It will take seven months to get the catchment areas under water. After the water has reached the right level, turbine number eight (one of eight turbines that can generate 300 megawatts of electricity), will become operational.

Later, all eight turbines will run non-stop for 20 hours per day with four hours of rest and then continue for 30 days.

This is aimed at enhancing the durability of the components inside the turbines.

Zulkifle said the dam could filter floating biomasses such logs along the more than 400-km Rejang River.

It can also mitigate flood as it is capable of controlling the flow of water during the monsoon (December to March) when the river often overflows its banks and inundate places such as Belaga, Kapit, Kanowit, Sibu, and Sarikei.

Zulkifle said the eight small islands in the catchment area could be utilised for eco-tourism and aqua-culture.

The Orang Ulu people in the area then can diversify their economic activities into operating small businesses, either selling products or providing services such as transportation.

Furthermore, he said, the natives would benefit from the good road connecting Bakun Dam to Bintulu.

On the recent media briefing at the dam site, he said it was aimed at giving a clearer picture about the dam in light of the numerous negative news reports by online news portal or bloggers. It was also for explaining social issues related to environmental impact and the resettlement of the natives displaced from their ancestral lands.

Source : BorneoPost Online

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